Fashion isn’t superficial, we’re just doing it wrong.
For years after I left my fashion magazine job, I had this feeling that fashion was, as most people believed, utterly shallow.
I mean there is a lot of evidence for the whole “you can’t sit with us” mentality and a very healthy dose of exclusivity. I mean, the industry fuels itself on building brands that everyone wants to own but few can afford.
As I stepped away from being in the middle of it all, I started to feel like the other. I allowed myself to let my ego run the show and convince me fashion and the industry are for people who crave attention, need material things to feel good, and, more importantly, are shallow.
current mood board
*All images are sourced from Pinterest
This thought protected me from the emptiness I was feeling at not knowing what to do with my life after fashion. The more I tried to push it away, the more it kept showing up. I wanted to be done with it and move on to my new world of self-improvement and healing. I thought I couldn’t possibly be interested in both.
I felt wrong for having what I thought were conflicting desires. “You can’t care about style and spirit.”
I love beautifully made things. I love stories about how things are made and more importantly, I love how creative something as simple as getting dressed (a requirement in society) can be.
With the way social media has infiltrated our lives, I do think fashion and its processes have become a little bit manipulated. People are using our human desires of belonging and self-improvement to sell.
Just like marketers back in the Mad Men age wanted you to believe you weren’t good enough until you had <insert whatever they were selling here>. The idea that we aren’t already good enough as we are is sold to us on the daily.
I know (from a lot of experience) that no amount of clothing or money will ever make you feel good for a long enough time to matter.
But fashion isn’t about the things you think it is. I know, I know. Listen. Me, you ... we have been duped into thinking fashion is about clothes.
You might be thinking I’ve lost it at this point, but hear me out. It’s not what you buy, it’s how you feel. Getting dressed isn’t about having the latest brand names or styles so that other people can affirm what you should be affirming to yourself on a daily basis. And that is ...
I am enough.
I know how strong the lure of a good name brand is. On days when I’m feeling less than, I find myself grabbing my most brand recognizable pieces. I can stop and ask myself why I’m wearing that. If I’m honest, it’s because I want people to know ...
I own it.
I can afford it.
All of the wrong reasons.
Thinking I’m not good enough in an outfit from Target is what fuels my limiting belief that fashion is superficial. Drum roll, please … sometimes I’m superficial.
Hard to admit, but the more I accept the hidden parts of myself, the more I can release them. Here are a few ways I’m changing my relationship to clothes for the better.
Stop caring what other people think.
I like to start out with the heavy hitter. This is basically it. So much of the negative aspects of fashion stem from caring what people think. If you think you don’t care, I dare you to take a closer look.
It’s not about how much you spend.
If you’re only focusing on cost, this is going to be an uphill battle even if your funds are endless. Rating clothes on price instead of how much you love them is a disaster. There are a lot of expensive clothes that look and feel like crap and a lot of affordable pieces that can make you feel like a million bucks.
You have to start focusing on how things make you feel. If knowing you’re wearing a certain designer or that your pieces cost a certain amount is important, I implore you to revisit #1 and make sure you aren’t doing it for the opinions of others.
I fall victim to this one a lot. I blame it on my experience at a fashion magazine where spending $600 on shoes was considered normal practice without much thought.
Creativity is the purpose.
Another thing social media has helped cultivate is the loss of originality. I will agree this isn’t true across the board. Social media platforms allow people to be seen and heard. However, for a lot of the fashion content we see, it’s the same. It might have a different filter or different color scheme but it can feel more or less the same.
Fashion has always been about standing out, not fitting in. But in our quick-to-judge culture, we want to just make the status quo, look the way that’s socially acceptable, and be liked.
Oh, I said it, the big one … everyone wants to be accepted. I know I do. I have to fight it everyday. My need to be accepted by others overrides my self-acceptance far too often.
Which takes me back to #1. See? I told you it was the heavy hitter.
Fashion is supposed to be fun, not something to fear. I’ve come to realize how much it’s a part of me and who I am. The creativity fuels my soul and just because I love material things doesn't make me a bad person. A lesson I’m still learning.
All my love,